We chatted with award-winning YouTuber and influencer Hannah Witton about becoming a birds-and-bees guru, and how her day job affects her own sex life
Hello Hannah! So, how did you get into vlogging about sex and relationships?
Sex education was something I was already interested in, but I didn’t quite know where to channel that energy. I’d been making videos for a few months, and started to gain a moderate audience. I was watching a lot of Laci Green’s videos – who’s a sex educator in the US – and then it just sort of clicked and I was like, “I could do something like this.” At the time, there was no one doing it in the UK, and there still isn’t really anyone whose main thing is sex and relationships.
Do you think people should be more open to talking about sex in schools and at home?
Absolutely. I don’t think young people should have to go to the internet to find out things because they haven’t been taught them. A lot of people will tweet me saying that everything they’ve learnt about sex has come from my videos. I’m like, “You’re welcome,” but also, “Oh my goodness, that’s terrible.”
Do people watch your videos for information or because they want to discuss sex?
A lot of people will come to my channel out of curiosity. It’s something that maybe they already know about, but they want a safe space to discuss these things, learn a bit more about them, and just not be judged. Some people come for specific advice. A lot of people will say they’ve never even looked at their vagina before and feel gross about their own bodies, or feel confused or ashamed about their sexuality. One of the things I want to get across is that we’re all normal. It’s really important because if you’re not taught from a young age that all these things are okay, and the only other education you might be getting is from mainstream porn, then a lot of problems can arise in people’s confidence, self-worth, and how they interact with other people.
If you're having consensual sex and you're happy about that, why's that anybody's business?
Have you always been open about sex and relationships?
I had a very open household growing up so I think that definitely helped. We could talk about anything, like at the dinner table we could talk about periods. I was never told, “Don’t ask that.”
How do your family feel about your videos?
They absolutely love them! My parents don’t watch all of my videos, but they’re incredibly supportive. My gran actually watches all of them. She genuinely loves them. The only one she’s expressed any discomfort with is the video I did on period sex. I was just like, “It’s alright for you, you don’t have periods anymore. Some of us have to make do. I’m not going to let anything stop me!”
What’s your experience of online dating been like?
When I was online dating, I think I only went on about five dates over a number of years, because I would delete the app off my phone and then I would get curious again and re-download it. For some reason I don’t think it properly worked for me. I spent a lot of time browsing and talking to people. But I didn’t feel compelled to go out with them that often. Two out of the five people were because I was doing an online dating series and I had to go on a date – for research!
You’ve got a boyfriend now, but vlogged about single life. What was the best thing about that?
Just doing what I wanted, when I wanted. Having this complete freedom, especially being at university and having just moved to London, it was this exciting time and I was dating, making lots of connections, it was fun. Of course there was the odd heartbreak here and there, but it builds you up and that’s what makes you who you are. For the most part things ended amicably. We were just like, “Yeah, we’re not meant to be.”
Did you feel social pressure when you hit your mid-20s to ‘couple-up’?
I was starting to feel the pressure to be honest, but it was more coming from myself than anyone else. I would have the odd comment from parents and grandparents that I think everyone gets, like, “How’s your love life?”, “When are you going to give us grandchildren?”, but you don’t take it seriously. I starting dating someone last summer and I was so into him. Then he ended it out of the blue with a really mean text message. This was around the time I was writing the book. I was just like, “Okay, this is definitely going in.”
Your first book is called Doing It. How easy was it to write?
It was strange – the easiest parts to write were anecdotes just because they would come out of me. Suddenly all of these details come back, like really specific details of the underwear I was wearing when I lost my virginity! Reliving all of that stuff was fun. It was a really cathartic process. It was hard work because of the insane word count, like I’ve never written that much in my life before. But it was an amazing experience and I just got into a rhythm every day. So even though I was working from home and not leaving the house, I made sure I showered, sat down at the kitchen table and just got in the zone and wrote. It was a lot of fun.
What’s the response been like so far?
The response has been amazing! A lot of people have read the whole thing now and are tweeting me or leaving reviews on Goodreads.com and Amazon. It’s amazing to see that feedback on something you’ve worked on for so long, especially when I’m used to that instant feedback of videos.
To me, it looks like everyone is sex-positive – it's wonderful. But I'm aware stereotypes and gender roles still exist
Do you think the stigma around casual sex and one-night stands has reduced over time?
I like to think so. For me, I can see it improving, but that’s because of the circles I run in, either in real-life or online. To me, it looks like everyone is sex-positive today – it’s wonderful. But I’m aware that a lot of the stereotypes and gender roles still exist. To be honest, I think it’s those gender roles that hold us back the most.
For women, it’s frowned upon if you have casual partners, and for men it’s the opposite – there’s pressure for you to have loads of experience. It’s quite damaging because if you’re having consensual sex and you’re happy about that, it’s coming from a joy of sex and other people, then why’s that anybody’s business?
Do you think being a sex vlogger helps or hinders your own sex life?
It’s the classic two sides of the same coin. On the one hand, because I talk about sex openly and online, I think a lot of people are quite curious. They’re like, “I wonder what sleeping with Hannah Witton would be like?” To me, that’s kind of gross. I’m like, “No. Uh-uh. Really weird.” But the positive side is that because I lead by example, people often feel very comfortable communicating things about sex to me, which means I’ve always had quite positive experiences with partners in the past.
The main worry a lot of people have is of being judged or hurting someone’s feelings. There’s so much anxiety and pressure around sex and relationships, and I feel like I’m a good partner in that sense, and I like to create an environment where that judgement isn’t there and it’s like, “I’ll tell you what I want. What do you want to get out of this experience?”
My advice is to take it out of the bedroom. Reignite the relationship by going off, having adventures, and doing fun, new, exciting things
Do you have any advice for couples who want to reignite their sexual spark?
I do! Basically, don’t put the pressure on the bedroom to reignite that fire. Remember the things that originally turned you on about your partner, and most people will say they’re most drawn to their partner when they’re doing something new, or they’re watching their partner in their element, and none of these situations are sexual.
When you put pressure on the bedroom, it gets so messy and personal, and there’s so many expectations that often mean it’s even more difficult to perform because you’re not relaxed. My advice is to take it out of the bedroom. Reignite the relationship by going off, having adventures, and doing fun, new, exciting things. The more you do that, the more you’ll find that’ll seep back into your sex life as well.
You’re keen on promoting masturbation.
Absolutely. Talking about masturbation, and masturbating in the first place, is seriously great and it’s wonderful to be able to talk about sexual things in a non-sexual context. I’ve learnt so much about my body, the pleasure I get, and masturbation and sex in general, from talking to my friends about how they masturbate – funny little stories or anecdotes, tips and tricks. Like if you’ve got a really good thing going on, share the love. We all want to know!
Do people seem more comfortable talking openly about it now?
There’s still a taboo around it, especially surrounding female masturbation, and I definitely fell victim to that in my teen years because I found it disgusting, and didn’t touch myself ever. So now I’m just playing catch-up. I think [masturbation] should be normalised and parents shouldn’t be afraid when their kid tells them they’re doing these things or they catch them doing them. It should be like, “That’s absolutely fine, just do it in private.” That’s all you need to say, because as soon as you go, “No, that’s wrong,” that’ll be ingrained in their brain and they might have an unhealthy relationship with their body for who knows how long.
Do you plan to write more books in the future?
I definitely want to write more books. I’ve got a few ideas for a second book, but nothing’s set in stone yet. Outside of vlogging, I’ve got a podcast with two of my friends called The Banging Book Club, where we read and review a book about sex each month, and this month I picked my own book! I love the podcast and reading loads of books about sex. We’re hoping to do more live events with it, and I definitely want to do more podcasting – we’ll see if I have a solo podcast soon.